Tick disease Powassan virus (POWV)

The good news is that researchers at The Wistar Institute have designed and tested the first-of-its-kind synthetic DNA vaccine against Powassan virus (POWV). This disease is an RNA virus in the flavivirus family the same as Zika.

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This tick-borne disease is fatal in ten percent of people who are infected. It causes detrimental neurological problems such as encephalitis and meningitis. It is passed quickly to a human from a tick and symptoms can occur anytime during the one-to-four-week incubation period. Symptoms include flu-like fever, body aches, skin rash and headaches.

Even though the disease is still rare, there has been an increase in cases in North America. The areas most affected are the Northeastern states and the Great Lakes region.   

Residents of these areas should be extra careful in the spring and fall when the virus is the most active. As we learned in SAR, you can take some precautions. If you work outdoors, even doing yard work, use bug repellent, wear long pants and put your socks over your pant cuffs so ticks cannot crawl up your pant legs. Wear a hat or scarf to keep them out of your hair and long sleeves. After working outdoors, be sure to take off all of your clothes and examine them and then wash them. Check your whole body, especially your back and other areas you cannot see easily. Take a thorough shower. With care, you can protect yourself from all ticks and tick diseases.